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Pakistan: at least 59 killed in two attacks on 29 September 2023

Two suicide attacks on mosques in Pakistan left at least 59 people dead on Friday 29 September, as worshippers celebrated the prophet Muhammad’s birthday.

The first attack occurred in Balochistan province, where a suicide bomber targeted a group of people gathered for a parade in Mastung. The bomber killed at least 54 people, including a senior police officer, and left hundreds injured.

The second attack took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where a mosque within a police station compound in Hangu was targeted by two suicide bombers, killing five people and injuring 12, and causing the building to collapse.

The aftermath of both attacks showed scenes of chaos and anguish, with families searching for missing relatives and wounded individuals being rushed to hospitals.

No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, while the  Pakistani Taliban (TTP) has distanced itself from the attacks. In response to the incidents, the government has vowed to find the perpetrators. Additionally, accusations have been made against India’s intelligence agency, further complicating the situation and highlighting regional tensions. 

Since 2010, AOAV has recorded 3,000 incidents of explosive violence in Pakistan, and 23,648 civilian casualties (5,728 killed, 17,920 injured). Improvised explosive devices (IEDs) account for 49% (1,467) of those incidents, and 73% (17,250) of the civilian harm. 

15% (220) of the IED attacks recorded in Pakistan since 2010 were reported as suicide attacks, and they caused 44% (7,506) of the civilian casualties of IEDs in the country.

Places of worship are the worse affected locations for civilian casualties of suicide bombings, accounting for 31% (2,361) of civilians harmed by such attacks, followed by public gatherings, where 20% (1,524) of civilian casualties of suicide bombings in Pakistan have occurred, and markets, which account for 12% (914) of civilian harm from suicide attacks. 

The Pakistani Taliban are the reported perpetrators of the majority, 35% (2,658), of civilian casualties from suicide bombings in Pakistan, followed by the Islamic State group, who killed and injured 15% (1,118) of civilians harmed in such attacks. 

In 2022,  incidents of explosive weapon use by non-state actors in Pakistan  rose by 31% compared to 2021, from 71 to 93 incidents, and civilian casualties of such attacks rose by 47% from 376 to 554

AOAV’s casualty figures represent the lowest of estimations in terms of the number of people killed and injured by explosive weapon use. In an effort to quantify the explicit harm caused by specific explosive weapons, AOAV solely records incident-specific casualty figures, as reported in English-language media.

AOAV condemns the use of violence against civilians and the use of explosive weapons in populated areas. All actors should stop using explosive weapons with wide-area effects where there is likely to be a high concentration of civilians.